There are only three more days of walking for food as part of my Summer of 7 food challenge, but during this process, I’ve learned and thought a lot about food deserts.
What are food deserts?
Food deserts are low-income areas where access to real food groceries like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish is limited. (Official definition is HERE.) Persons in these areas often do not have cars and therefore walk to obtain their food from convenience stores or fast-food restaurants. Consequently, these people increasingly suffer from obesity and diabetes.
I don’t live in a food desert, but I thought a lot about what it would mean if I did. I asked you all if you could walk to a grocery store and MOST of you said, “NO.” Like me, many of you said that your preferred store was too far away to walk.
It is hard for us to imagine how different our lives would be if we couldn’t just jump in the car to get our food.
Need milk and apples? Okay. Get your kids, hop on the bus, and head across town. Sorry. But you’re going to have to limit your selection to what you can carry on the bus (with your squirming kids). No frozen foods for you either because those are going to melt by the time you get home.
“BUT”, you say, “there is a huge Farmer’s Market down the road. I’ll walk there!”
Okay, sure. But don’t forget, your Farmer’s Market doesn’t accept food stamps, which your family is on, so you have to use your rent money for produce. And, of course, in winter, the Farmer’s Market is closed.
Are you tired out yet? Discouraged? Does just thinking about all this make you feel overwhelmed? This is only the tip of the iceberg. Watch this 6 minute clip about an area without bus service.
I watched this and just felt . . . sad. Tired. And overwhelmed. I’m not Michele Obama; what can I do?!?
When I looked up Food Deserts at the locator here, I was shocked to see one in my county. AND, just like in my example above, there is a large Farmer’s Market smack dab in the middle of it that is frequented by rich, skinny, white people. (They are people that I formerly would have called middle class until I read that anyone making 35K a year or more is in the top 4% wealthiest persons in the world. GASP.)
Grrrr. This just chaps my rich, skinny, white hide.
However, I have learned a couple of things from my three weeks of walking to the store. One of them is this: To get where you want to be, you have to start out. So let’s start. What’s ONE THING you can do, however small, to help alleviate the problem of food deserts in your area? Put your idea in comments and maybe it will spur someone else along.
Oh, don’t forget. You can keep up with The Summer of 7 through our Facebook Group. Or by linking up to the blog hop. Or by sharing the code for the blog hop on YOUR blog.